Seth Curry was brought back to the Mavs to shoot 3s, but he’s not getting very many minutes this preseason to do it.
Why is that?
As the Dallas Mavericks head into their final preseason game tonight vs the Kawhi & PG3 led Clippers, there are precious few things left to play for before the regular season begins. There will be very short leashes for all starting players if they play at all, and the outcome of the game means absolutely nothing. However, it can be useful for the second unit and role players to jockey for position on this team and have one last chance to show why they deserve more playing time.
There is, however, one player who hasn’t gotten very much run at all this preseason after being a high-level target this summer in free agency: Seth Curry.
Seth has played in all 4 games so far this preseason, playing an average of 13.5 minutes, where he’s played as few as 9 minutes in half of them.
Seth is the 5th highest-paid player on this team, yet he is only in long enough to shoot 3 shots and score 3.5 pts a game. Did the Mavericks bring him in and pay him as a specialist to watch him sit?? Of course, not, there are other things at play this preseason that is worth understanding about this team as we head towards the regular season.
This Mavericks team has several new components to work out even though there are only a few unfamiliar faces. This preseason is the first time Porzingis and Tim Hardaway will really get to play full time in Carlisle’s system and work to find what makes them most effective. Delon Wright has been playing tentatively until the last game when he’s slated to be our starting point guard. Rotations aren’t set yet, especially with Dwight Powell missing all of the preseasons when he’s our presumptive starting center. And to top all of that off, there is open debate as to who the 5th starter for this team is.
Seth, meanwhile, is a KNOWN commodity to this team. This is why the team paid him $8M a year for the next 4 years. They DO plan on using him, but they know what he brings. He brings craftiness as a backup point guard. He brings one of the league’s best 3 point shots. And best of all, he knows his role, so neither he nor the team is looking for him to show something this preseason.
Seth, in his limited minutes, is STILL shooting 50% from 3PT range, making 4 of 8 and doing so with 2nd team, 3rd team, and even training camp invitees as his running mates. The coaching staff has seen what they need to see from him already and are confident that with his prior experience in this system and his general game that Seth is essentially plug and play with this team once things get going for real next week.
If it feels like this is extrapolating a role player’s preseason run into an assumption that he’s good to go, let’s look at a player that we KNOW is good to go and see how they line up: Jalen Brunson. Brunson is guaranteed to be a large part of this team’s game plan this year and beyond. If nothing else, look at all the billboards around Dallas with his face on it. He is the heir apparent to JJ Barea’s backup PG role and he is playing well enough that he could potentially sub in as a starter IF Delon Wright doesn’t show well enough early in the season. Jalen isn’t going anywhere for this team.
So how much has he played this preseason? He’s played 14.2 minutes a game over 3 games. If you hate math, that’s 42 seconds a game more than Seth Curry. Both of these players have distinctly carved out roles on a team with a lot still to figure out.
Seth’s role, once the regular season arrives, will be contingent upon things the team decides after this final preseason game. I have personally advocated for Seth to be in the starting lineup, but Carlisle has said that it will be fluid heading into the season. And seeing consistent play out of players vying for that fifth starting spot will determine whether Seth is needed in that starting role.
Can Tim Hardaway up his efficiency to where he is a viable threat? He said playing efficiently next to Luka and KP is his goal and he’s showing that so far this preseason. THJ is shooting 46.9% from the field and 45% from 3PT range this preseason, both of which would be career-high marks for him. And the Mavericks are looking him to prove that this isn’t a fluke by playing him the most of ANY player on this team this preseason. He’s played 87 minutes so far averaging 21.6 minutes per game. And the second-highest minute player on the team is Timmy’s biggest competition: Justin Jackson.
Justin has come into the preseason with added weight and looking to pick up where he left off. He’s been given nearly the same amount of “prove it” opportunity as Hardaway Jr at 85 minutes this preseason to show that he has what it takes to start. He’s shot 63% from the floor and 40% from 3PT range. Similarly to THJ, these would ALSO be career numbers for him, but 4 games are just too small of a sample size to say anything definitively.
So the Mavs are giving both of them as much time as possible to try and decide where both of these guys would fit best on the team and how best to utilize ALL of their rotation. With Seth not playing identical defensive roles to these two players, but being elite at the skill they hope these two guys can develop, Seth really is in a waiting game situation when it comes to his place on the team. Even opening night might not show to the final form of Seth’s role on this team. With chemistry and X’s and O’s still developing, it’s doubtful this team shoots out of the gate with the exact formations they plan on using the bulk of the year.
Seth Curry brings a valuable skill to this team and effects all the players he plays with, so not getting playing time this preseason is really just an illustration of how many other question marks this team is working through before the games matter.
Seth is a Maverick for the next 4 years and he chose them over other playing opportunities knowing full well what kind of a situation he was coming back to, so he isn’t worried about his preseason playing time and neither should any MFFLs.
Featured Image: USA Today